Economic access, education, and healthcare are inextricably linked – poor health can be a barrier to education, productivity in the economy, and overall livelihoods. Lack of sanitation, clean water, and immunization lead to outbreaks of waterborne and communicable diseases; shortage of nutrient-rich food exacerbates disease; wide-spread depression and anxiety lead to drug abuse; sexual violence leads to a rise in HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs); an inadequate health service leads to increase in mortality. PARC tries to reach the poorest of the poor through advice and support, equipping them with the knowledge and means to ensure they can access good quality healthcare, and empower them to bail themselves out of the poverty trap and lead healthy lives.
When people are too poor, it is very different to make a decision for a better future. Without nutrient-rich foods, people become very vulnerable to diseases, and when people fall sick, their productivity not only reduces but translates into reduced incomes. When peoples’ incomes are increased, they are able to send their children to school, can afford to visit a health facility in case of an illness, and can embrace good nutritional security.
PARC aims to empower marginalized people living in rural under-served communities in Uganda by providing a low-cost community-supported healthcare system that uses a holistic approach to addresses inter-related health issues.
PARC SANITARY PADS
We focus on creating local access to low-cost affordable menstrual products through running a reusable sanitary pads production enterprise that employs local women – training entrepreneurs and establishing local markets through social marketing to increase demand and tackling last-mile distribution challenges for the most marginalized communities.
To ensure uptake of the reusable sanitary pads, we work with various stakeholder to train students (schools) and teachers to deliver reproductive health education that focuses on integrating menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into the school development plans (SDP) and existing community programs so that it becomes part of normal practice.
We will be launching a locally-run social enterprise producing and selling low-cost reusable sanitary products, including a pilot installment payment scheme and a sales strategy to enable local women to become entrepreneurs and sell the products on commission in their own communities.
The project will not only create work for women who would otherwise struggle to find employment but will also allow PARC to increase its capacity to sustainably provide the highly needed basic Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) challenges essential for the girls to stay in – and finish school. Another impact that the reusable sanitary pads will have on women and girls in the sense of dignity it brings with it.
Our reusable sanitary pads will offer better feminine hygiene protection and comfort while reducing environmental waste due to littering of disposable sanitary pads
We will be launching units to build and sell boi-sand water filters to address the lack of access to clean drinking water. The bio-sand filter is one of the several household water treatment technology options – it is a cheap, easy to use, and maintain technology to produce clean and safe drinking water for the household (family) for over 10 years. The biosand filter is an innovation of the traditional slow sand water filter. It can be constructed locally and allow for a sufficient amount of water to be treated for drinking, personal hygiene, and cleaning purpose.
Biosand filtration is an appropriate, low-cost method for domestic/household water treatment and is proven to reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases. It removes 100% parasites, over 95% bacteria, and nearly all suspended sediments in water sourced from a river/spring well, the tap, and/or rain harvesting systems. The combination of sand and the biologic layer purifies water at a rate of 12-18 liters per hour (producing an average of 150 liters per day), which can serve the average families’ daily needs.
The project will reduce deforestation and promote good hygiene practices while allowing the youth to become social entrepreneurs launching WASH businesses.
Uganda’s key health and social development indices have been below expectations. With only one doctor for every 25,000 people, Uganda falls significantly short of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of one doctor for every 1,000 people. The physician density in Uganda is only 0.117 physicians per 1,000 people (compared to 2.74 in the UK) and the hospital bed density is 0.49 beds per 1,000 people (compared to 3.1 in the USA). The country struggles with relatively high levels of morbidity and mortality from preventable causes.
WE KNOW THAT IMPROVED HEALTH AND NUTRITION PLAYS AN INTEGRAL PART IN THE ALLEVIATION OF POVERTY.
If children are to learn and perform well at school, they need to be free of illness and properly nourished. To address this, we are planning a sustainable low-cost healthcare system consisting of school clinics and a static medical clinic. PARC will provide first aid services through school clinics operating in each of its schools. When more complicated cases arise, students will be referred to the PARC health center for more comprehensive medical treatment. PARC Medical Center will operate on a charity basis while complementing the free governmental healthcare system, as it works to provide quality medical services to the people at minimal costs (subsidized fee-based health care).
Our clinic model will give dignified and compassionate care to sick children and adults, enabling the children to continue attending school and receive an education. To promote ECD services, we will seek, nutritional and medical experts to help in designing a malnourished baby feeding program that includes formula, milk, bread, fruit, eggs, vegetables, and greens to ensure that children grow up healthy and strong in their critical first years. It will also provide care, treatment, and education to nursing mothers, women infected with HIV to prevent and/or eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child through its comprehensive Antenatal Care Services and the provision of formula milk and alternative feeding for infants.
In addition to providing first aid, basic check-ups, malaria testing and medication, the school nurses will coordinate health promotion campaigns and workshops for the entire community. Additionally, we PARC will ensure to:-
• Provide 2 nutritious meals a day for all students and staff.
• Integrate general hygiene practices into the school curriculum.
• Include sexual reproductive health education (including family planning) in the curriculum.
• Teach students and teachers about the risk of HIV/AIDS and other STIs
• Ensure clean and safe drinking water is provided to all students and staff.
ALL PROFITS SUPPORTED BY DONATIONS ARE RECYCLED BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH
HEALTH FACILITY OUTREACHES
Uganda’s key health and social development indices have been below expectations. With a physician density of only 0.117 physicians per 1,000 people (compared to 2.74 in the UK) and a hospital bed density of 0.49 beds per 1,000 people (compared to 3.1 in the USA), the country struggles with relatively high levels of morbidity and mortality from preventable causes. With government funding constrained, the government health centers are over-stretched, have inadequate resources, and fail to meet the health needs of the population.
PARC works to strengthen the public health delivery system of rural, stated aided health centers to ensure that there is a faster and effective diagnosis for early treatment and increased in-patient intake in six (6) ways:-
• Provide preventative education and workshops on healthcare issues such as malaria, hygiene and sanitation, STI/HIV testing and family planning options, etc.
• Provision of the solar system to ensure sustainable lighting and power for refrigerators to store drugs and vaccines.
• Provision of basic essential items (medical supplies and diagnostic tools) to assist in providing the maximum appropriate level of services at the local level.
• Providing access to safe water since the lack of safe water at a health post can be a source of infectious diseases and represents serious risks to patients and health workers.
• Empowering village health teams (VHTs) which function as a community’s initial healthcare contact, and creating referral networks whereby village health team (VHT) members alert PARC if a patient requires specialized care beyond local health facility capacity.
• Bring access to essential medicines such as distributing malaria drugs, pain-killers, and anti-bacterial (subsidized by PARC so as to be affordable) to village households, both through direct sales at PARC Medical clinic and through setting up supply chains using the VHT.
SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH (SRH)
Reproductive health (SRH/SRHR) is a human right. Reproductive health education is also important for adults and young people helping to raise awareness about puberty, sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, family planning, and maternal health. It empowers women and men to make informed decisions about their bodies, improve general health, and well being, and overcoming inequality – it helps people to break the vicious cycles of poverty.
With over 78% of the Ugandan population under the age of 30, many of these young people are at risk or are already struggling with the consequences of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) including HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights is a vital component of PARC’s work to reduce poverty and social injustice. In addition to linking SRHR to socio-economic development and help in addressing sustainable reductions in poverty, we are;-
• Conducting outreaches to empower young people to be in a position to make positive decisions by ensuring access to comprehensive sexuality education, strengthening menstrual hygiene management, delaying early marriage, improving access to health services, strengthening protective factors, such as communication with parents, and supporting the formation of positive gender norms.
• Holding community dialogue sessions on socio-cultural, gender-based, and other structural drivers of the STIs and HIV epidemic.
• Promote awareness and advocacy on menstruation through celebrating the on the 28th May each year as the International Menstrual Hygiene Day and International Day of Action for Women’s Health. By raising awareness on sexual and reproductive health, we support the decisions they make about their futures and bodies — so they can avoid teenage pregnancy.
• Promoting sanitation by constructing gender-separate toilets (private ‘girls only’ latrines) coupled with the distribution of reusable sanitary pads to girls and women.
• We try where possible to link adolescent mothers back to schools, increasing their access to family planning and maternal health services, and engaging their male partners as fathers and more gender-equitable partners.
• Working with village health teams (VHTs) who serve as a link between the community and Ugandan health facility to strengthen linkage and referral systems for SRHR and ARV/ART as well as a follow-up of the patients.
• Provision of youth-friendly SRH/ SRHR services including VCT for STIs and HIV through PARC clinics.
WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE (WASH)
Poor sanitation and hygiene is a cross-cutting health concern in all rural Ugandan villages. Poor sanitation leads to diarrheal diseases, which are responsible for 17% of all deaths of children under five (World Health Organization). The link between access to safe water, overall health, and the economic opportunities of the people of Kasese is clear, as access to safe water is greatly lacking in many villages. By tackling WASH issues, we can stop preventable diseases and deaths due to poor sanitation, poor hygienic conditions, and contaminated drinking water.
Education: We educate our village communities about the importance of household hygiene, personal hygiene, and sanitation through outreaches. As part of educational outreaches, we integrate access to information on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and the provision of appropriate sanitary protection in WASH.
Toilets: To improve sanitation, we are constructing gender-separate latrines (that used dry-flush technology to reduce odor and trap flies).
Water Access: We are working to improving access to safe water through different technologies such as installing rainwater harvesting systems, gravity flow systems, etc, (this is coupled with installing handwashing facilities.
Water treatment: We focus on the prevention of home contamination of water and the promotion of point-of-use (PoU) treatment products. In addition to the distribution of Sawyer membrane-based water filters, we are launching an enterprise to make and sell bio-sand filters.